Obama faces a challenge in defining his aims in Libya

Antiwar protest

A protester takes part in an antiwar demonstration near the White House. (Jewel Samad, AFP/Getty Images / March 26, 2011)

By Bob Drogin and Paul Richter, Los Angeles TimesMarch 27, 2011

Reporting from Washington—

Barack Obama entered the White House as a reluctant warrior, a dovish Democrat who espoused his principles at a 2002 antiwar rally: “What I am opposed to is … a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. … A war based not on reason, but on passion.”

Now, as the U.S.-led bombing of Libya enters a second week, President Obama must convince an anxious public and a restive Congress that his decision to plunge America’s military into the cauldron of a distant armed mission is none of those things.

So far, it is much easier to explain why America joined the conflict — as an emergency action to protect civilians — than to envision how it will end. The president has yet to clarify his long-term aims and how he plans to achieve them. Nor has he said what happens if Moammar Kadafi stays in power, as the Libyan leader has vowed, despite a no-fly zone and airstrikes against his military.

By Bob Drogin and Paul Richter, Los Angeles Times

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